The lunch idea:
Honestly I don't love doing hot lunches. Because it means that I have to pack in the morning when I get up. I much prefer doing the packing at night and getting up in the morning with the knowledge that it's already done. But the kids had spaghetti and meatballs for dinner - homemade meatballs and homemade sauce. I have to admit, it was really good. And when a child tells me that she loved her dinner so much that she wants to have the leftovers for lunch tomorrow, well I have a hard time saying no to that. So, leftover spaghetti it is!
What's in the lunches:
- Angel hair pasta (I buy Barilla Plus for the kids, because they add some extra protein to it). Homemade tomato sauce. Whole tomatoes, garlic, salt - blend in the Vitamix until totally smooth, and then simmer - easy as pie. Homemade meatballs. Parmesan cheese.
- Fruit: strawberries, oranges, apples, pears
- A few cookies on the side.
They don't all have exactly the same. One has pasta and meatballs, one has pasta and sauce, one has pasta, meatballs, and sauce.
In the thermos containers, two of them have milk and two have diluted juice. I have two that I think are too skinny and need some extra fat and protein, so they get whole milk. And I have two that have some little constipation issues if they don't drink enough, so I have found that diluted juice in their lunch is the best way to make sure they are drinking at least a full cup of liquid while at school.
Tips and questions:
- To send hot food, you will have best results if you preheat the container. I fill them with boiling water and let them sit and heat up while I'm getting the food ready. Then I put hot food in a hot container. Start out with the food much hotter than you would serve it to them. That combination of hot container and extra hot food will help ensure that their meal is still nice and warm by lunch time.
- I don't treat the fruit at all. Slice with a sharp knife to help prevent browning. If you still have a problem with browning, mixing your apples and pears with some orange slices like I've done here will also help.
- I get a lot of questions about what we do with the leftovers. If the food is still edible at the end of the day, then often they will finish it for snack. Often what happens is that my son will nibble at all of his sisters' leftovers. If there was something untouched that is still good (like fruit or veggies), then I will put it away to use again. And anything else goes in the compost. I expect there to always be a little leftover. If the lunch comes home totally empty then I worry that maybe I didn't give them enough food. So I try to pack just a little more than I think they will eat, that way I know they are getting enough.
- I always pack a cloth napkin for my kids. They will reuse the same napkin for a few days if it doesn't look dirty.
- I fill the drink containers at night and put them in the fridge overnight, so by morning the drink and the container are cold, and the drink stays very cold well past lunch time. I've had milk left overnight in these containers that still tasted perfectly good the next morning.